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The key to protection: Be simpler, more human and braver

Be simpler. Be more human. And be braver. These are the concepts the UK protection market needs to adopt to be successful in future, according to speakers at this summer’s Protection Review Conference.

Simpler is obvious. Campaigner for plainer English in financial services, Rhys Williams of Quiet Room, suggested we need less complicated products, easier to understand marketing and policy material, and quick straight-through processes.

Being more human needs providers to show more empathy with customers, particularly at claims stage. Empathy expert Alasdair McGill described better methods of communications to make the experience for bereaved people as good as it can be in such difficult circumstances.

And being braver meant exploring new product models, challenging established ones and pushing the boundaries with underwriting. Scottish Widows director of employer relationships Jackie Leiper looked at the lessons we could learn from different markets.

There is evidence of all this starting to happen. AIG’s critical illness product Key 3 is a good example of making things simple. The Seven Families campaign tells the stories of people affected by illness. That is a more human touch. It is harder to find examples of protection companies being braver, however.

Another common thread discussed was the need for the industry to better engage with younger people. I went away and started looking for companies in other industries that had looked at specifically marketing a product to younger people. It became clear there is much talk about how to target millennials.

Should protection providers be focusing their efforts here? The more I dug into the idea, the more detractors I found to it. Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson says segmenting an audience purely based on age is “stupid” and targeting millennials “makes a mockery of just about every principle of basic segmentation”.
As a career marketer, I agree.

Of course, it is basic marketing theory. Find out what your customers’ problems are, find a solution to that problem, then communicate with them about why your solution is better than everyone else’s. There are millennials who like rock music and there are those who like drum and bass. One size does not fit all.

Should a protection solution employ a digital, convenient and low-cost approach? If young people are more used to renewable contracts on phones and other services, perhaps an annually renewable term assurance would be more appropriate?

After reading up on the subject, my conclusion is that, while we need to talk to more younger cust-omers and include them in our product development process,
the recommendations of the speakers at the conference are the ones to follow.

Being simpler, more human and braver will ultimately work for all customers, whether or not they belong to the millennial generation.

Roger Edwards is managing director of Roger Edwards Marketing and marketing director of Protection Review

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